Twitter Inc has rolled back a policy aimed at tackling misinformation related to COVID-19 on the social media platform, lending itself to the risk of a potential surge in false claims even as cases rise in China and some parts of the world.
The move also comes amid concerns about Twitter’s ability to fight misinformation after it let go about half of its staff, including those involved in content moderation, under new boss Elon Musk.
“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” according to an update on its blog page. The update was first reported by CNN on Tuesday.
The specific measures that Twitter will drop were not immediately clear, and the company did not immediately respond to a request to share more information.
At the onset of COVID in 2020, Twitter instated a number of measures, including labels and warning messages on tweets with disputed information about the health crisis and a framework to have users remove tweets that advanced false claims related to vaccines.
Meta Platforms Inc-owned Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube services employed similar measures, which are currently in place.
Meta in July sought the opinion of its independent oversight board on changes to its current approach, given the improvement in authentic information sources and general awareness about COVID.
Early this year, Twitter said that since March 2021, it had stopped enforcing a “civic integrity policy” related to lies about the 2020 US presidential election.
Billionaire Musk took over Twitter on October 27, paying $44bn for the company, and has moved quickly to initiate several changes to product and staff. Musk said on October 29 he would set up a content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints”. That council is yet to be set up.